Archives For Economics


Jonathan Gruber - Health Care ReformKapow! It’s Health Care Reform

A Review of

Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works

Jonathan Gruber, with H.P. Newquist,

Illustrated by Nathan Schrieber.

Paperback: Hill & Wang, 2011.
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Reviewed  by Jess O. Hale, Jr.


Jonathan Gruber - Health Care ReformOther Sample Pages Available on Amazon:
[ Sample #2 ]  [ Sample #3 ] [ Sample #4 ]

With spring bringing us Marvel’s ” Avengers” out to rave reviews and giant box office and summer looking toward a new Batman movie, what better way to tide a politically-engaged readership of comic books over than a discussion of health care reform?  Well, what if it came in the form of a graphic novel—does that help?  I hope so, as lack of health insurance and spiraling costs are quite arguably more serious threats to young adults than Loki.  Yet as we await a Supreme Court decision on the constitutional fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the more neutral shorthand for Congress’ enactment of the health reform effort that President Obama pushed for and signed, many people know more about a movie about comic book characters than about the content of what the health reform legislation actually does.  With a little help,  MIT economist Jonathan Gruber has sought to explain the nuts and bolts of health care reform in a format readily accessible to many young adults (and quite a few older folk who are at least a little young at heart) – a graphic novel.  Ably assisted by H. P. Newquist and Nathan Schreiber, Gruber has written Health Care Reform:  What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works as an explanation of the ACA for those who are not political or policy junkies.

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Mara Einstein - Compassion, Inc.The Moral Life of Corporations

A Review of

Compassion, Inc.: How Corporate America Blurs the Line Between What We Buy, Who We Are, and Those We Help
Mara Einstein.

Hardback: U of California Press, 2012.
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Reviewed by Amy Gentile.

Have you ever noticed all the “green” products nowadays and been skeptical of whether the companies making those products really care about the environment or are just jumping on the “do good” bandwagon? Have you ever felt uncomfortable with the idea of purchasing products to make a donation, like Product(RED) items, or donations that get you a badge of honor to wear, such as the ubiquitous yellow LIVESTRONG and other rubber bracelets? If so, you will probably enjoy this book; if these questions haven’t ever crossed your mind before now, you should definitely read this book.

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“Is Christ divided?
The Witness of an Ecumenical Table, Not an Ecumenical Babel?”

A Brief Review of

Ecumenical Babel:
Confusing Economic Ideology
and Church’s Social Witness

Jordan J. Ballor.
Christian Library Press, 2010.
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Reviewed by Jess O. Hale, Jr.

To many Christians today the lack of unity among Christ’s followers scandalizes the church, but for many disciples of Jesus the depth of poverty across the globe and around the corner is equally scandalous.  It is quite natural that both realities give offense to Jesus’s followers as Paul’s lament in 1 Corinthians (“Is Christ divided?”) is later matched by his collection for the poor and his horror at people going hungry at the Lord’s Table while others feasted.  In Ecumenical Babel, a young Reformed scholar who edits the Journal of Markets and Morality for the free-market oriented Acton Institute, Jordan Ballor, looks at the ecumenical movement and shares the scandal of the division in the body of Christ, but disappointingly he seems as caught up in economic ideology as those he blasts with criticism.  While today’s ecumenical movement is undoubtedly sickly and I had guarded hopes when Ballor took Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s passionate confessional ecumenism as a point of departure, unfortunately Ballor cannot rise above a screed against his assessment of “neo-Marxism” and liberation theology with his equally ideological and baldly asserted free-market neo-liberalism (xvi, 4, 105).

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“Take a Walk in Their Shoes

A Review of
The Maid’s Daughter:
Living Inside and Outside the American Dream

by Mary Romero

Review by Leslie Starasta.

The Maid’s Daughter:
Living Inside and Outside the American Dream

by Mary Romero.
Hardback: NYU Press, 2011.
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The opening scene of the movie version of The Help asks what it feels like to raise white children when your own children are being raised by someone else.  The Maid’s Daughter: Living Inside and Outside the American Dream examines this question and many others from the viewpoint of the child of domestic workers depicting how one woman of Latina descent traverses the cultural divide between Mexican culture and a privileged white upper class while truly belonging to neither.  Mary Romero, sociology professor at Arizona State University, transforms twenty years of recorded interviews with a woman referred to as “Olivia Sanchez” into a highly readable book which juxtaposes Olivia’s story, as told to Romero, with sociological commentary, research and selected interviews with other children of domestic workers.   This thought provoking study raises many questions to wrestle with on both individual and societal levels

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Laboring in the Lord’s Vineyard

A Review of

All You That Labor:
Religion and Ethics in the Living Wage Movement
C. Melissa Snarr.
Hardback: NYU Press, 2011.
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Reviewed By Jess O. Hale, Jr.

As you look for a bargain on tomatoes at a large supermarket chain, the labor of a poorly paid farm worker seldom comes to mind nor does that of a hotel maid even if you leave a few dollars on the bed.   If you think about it, you know that those working folk need to make enough to pay rent, child care, health insurance and more—and you know that often they do not and the market is NOT working for those struggling ones among God’s children.  Then seeing video of noisy town hall meetings on health care or demonstrations protesting legislation affecting public employees might make you think that government is so dysfunctional that all citizens can do is go and shout, make a fuss and not accomplish anything.  In such a frustrating environment, a person of faith needs a tale of encouragement that a religiously grounded public witness can participate fruitfully in shaping a city where God’s justice means a person can labor and earn enough to live decently and perhaps even flourish.  In All You That Labor we find just such a tale as Vanderbilt ethics professor and activist Melissa Snarr uses a scholar’s tools to tell the story of the role of religion in the living wage movement in several American cities.  Snarr insightfully tells a story of local activists grounded in religious faith, Christian faith and other faiths, drawing on those resources and actually changing public policy at the local level.

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Alternatives to
Economic Darwinism

A Review of
New Financial Horizons:
The Emergence of
an Economy of Communion
Lorna Gold.
Paperback: New City Press, 2010.
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Reviewed by Margaret D’Anieri.

In her introduction, author Lorna Gold writes:

The end of the twentieth century was marked by the so-called “triumph of capitalism” and the failure of the socialism regimes in  Eastern Europe. It was accompanied by a wave of optimism that the “evils” of communism could be overcome by the forces of the free market… just two decades on … the world appeared a very different place. A world of prosperity delivered by free market globalization seemed like a distant dream. All over the world, governments were forced to step in to shore up banks, the stalwarts of market capitalism. Massive inequalities in opportunity remain the norm. Environmental destruction threatens. A series of truly global crises challenges us to think carefully about the assumptions on which economy and society is based.

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An excerpt from the book:

The Economics of Enough:
How to Run the Economy as If the Future Matters
Diane Coyle
Hardback: Princeton UP, 2011.
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Read our review of this book


Two great videos of Wendell Berry that I discovered recently:

Reading poems from Leavings
(One of our best books of 2009… Read our review.)

Talking about the basics of his economics.
(Read our review of What Matters? One of our best books of 2010).

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An excerpt from

Radical Homemakers:
Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture
Shannon Hayes.
Paperback: Chelsea Green, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon – Paperback ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]

Read our above review


838882: Why Business Matters to God: (And What Still Needs to Be Fixed)

A Review of

Why Business Matters to God:
(And What Still Needs to Be Fixed)

By Jeff Van Duzer
Paperback: IVP Academic, 2010.

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Reviewed by Thomas Turner

Too often, a Christian view of business is couched in terms of pros and cons. Jeff Van Duzer, in his theologically saturated business book Why Business Matters to God, reorients the discussion to focus not on the worthiness or ethics of business, but why it matters in the first place.

Building his case for business on a vocational theology defined by the creation story, Van Duzer expands the role of business beyond just being a means to an end for workers and businesspersons alike. In the creation story the material world is forefront and “good,” which for Van Duzer is a starting point for redefining the role of business. If the material world matters to God, then what we do with our material goods?the creativity, the entrepreneurship, the buying and selling of goods and services?is a furthering of God’s original creation. Next, Van Duzer does something interesting. Taking the theological perspective of Miroslav Volf and the creative theory from the Tolkien/Sayers camp, he defines the role of the Christian business and business leaders:

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